Monday, February 2, 2015

The urban density math of snow plowing

I caught this piece today that said 25% of Detroit's streets were plowed a day after the city's biggest snowfall since 1974. Whether or not that's good or bad here's another way to look at it.

Detroit has 1,884 miles of residential side streets and about 700,000 residents. That means every resident has to pay for about 14 feet of plowing.

New York City has 6,000 miles of streets and 8.4 million people. Even though that measure includes all roads, not just residential side streets, the fact that there are so many more people means big per capita savings. Each New York City resident only has to pay for 4 feet of plowing—over a 70% savings.

It's just a reminder of the uphill battle depopulated cities like Detroit have. The people leave but the streets don't go away.

Detroit can't copy New York's density but they might want to borrow one of its tricks that can create savings. The Big Apple owns very few plow trucks. Instead they just mostly stick plows on garbage trucks, like in the picture above. 

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